On Monday evening, March 13, the Canadian recording industry will celebrate the outstanding achievements of this nation’s musicians with the Juno Awards.
I was delighted to learn that pianist David Jalbert, who will close our season on Friday, May 12, has been nominated in the category Classical Album of the Year: Solo Artist. He is being recognized for his recording Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1. This is the first of three volumes of Prokofiev sonatas that have been planned by David. He will close our concert with a sonata by Prokofiev—not one on this nominated recording but one that will be on a future recording.
While looking through the other nominees, I saw a great many familiar names. There are three categories of Classical Albums in all: Solo Artist, Large Ensemble, and Small Ensemble. In every category there are musicians nominated who have at one time or another performed in a Valley Concert Society series. In fact, this is true of seven of the fifteen nominees.
In the category of Solo Artist, besides Jalbert, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and violinist James Ehnes have been nominated. Isabel sang a recital for us in November 2011. James Ehnes has performed here three times. The first was as guest soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in April 2002. The second time was in March 2009. On that occasion James came on stage after the intermission and announced that he had won a Juno Award that very evening for his album Homage. The third time was, of course, last June when he played that spectacular Tchaikovsky Piano Trio with Bion Tsang and Andrew Armstrong.
In the category of Large Ensemble, Ensemble Caprice under the direction of Matthias Maute is nominated for their performance of Messiah. In October 2015 Maute came with only five members of his ensemble to bring a very entertaining program of early music. I Musici de Montréal, another outstanding group nominated in this category, performed here twice, in February 1989 and October 1991, both times under their founding conductor, the late Yuli Turovsky.
In the category of Small Ensemble, Vancouver’s musica intima is nominated along with Andrew Balfour for a recording entitled Nagamo. This vocal ensemble opened our season in October 2008. ARC Ensemble performed here in March 2014. ARC is an acronym for Artists of the Royal Conservatory. They are nominated for a recording of music by the obscure Alberto Hemsi. Interestingly, they introduced our audience to two other little-known composers in 2014, the Swedish Bernhard Henrik Crusell and the Spanish François de Fossa. I have enjoyed listening to Crusell’s clarinet music and de Fossa’s guitar music since then.
It is a testament to the remarkable quality of musical artists that The Valley Concert Society has been able to bring to Abbotsford audiences over these many years that nearly half of this year’s nominees have been on our stage. It leaves me with one problem, however. I won’t know who to cheer for come Monday evening’s ceremony.
John Wiebe - President
The Valley Concert Society